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With Portland weathering one of its top-ten snowstorms of all time earlier this month, one question that landlords and prospective tenants alike are asking is how to plan for snow and ice storms in their leases.           

The allocation of responsibility for snow removal will depend on the type of property in question, with multi-tenant office parks requiring different provisions from street-level retail. 

When a project has multiple tenantsthink an industrial park, an office building, or even an indoor retail shopping malla landlord may be willing to take on the contractual obligation to clear parking lots and sidewalks of snow, particularly if the landlord is able to recover the cost of the removal service through common area maintenance charges or operating expenses. A sticking point (no pun intended) for the landlord that does take on this responsibility may arise over whether the landlord further agrees to clear snow and ice within a certain time after the commencement of the storm.

When a property has a single tenant, or the tenant has its own sidewalk access or parking lot, the landlord often seeks to place responsibility for snow and ice removal on the tenant. But the landlord may wish to reserve the right to undertake the removal itself, subject to reimbursement by the tenant.

Jonathan Singer is a Portland-based real estate attorney who regularly advises landlords and tenants on leasing office, industrial, and retail spaces.

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